Last Monday, during the Philippine Commonwealth's 75th anniversary, a visual art exhibit Baler was unveiled at the University of the Philippines's Bulwagan ng Dangal.
It will complement with the collecting practice of Jorge B. Vargas (1890-1980) at its museum named after the said first Filipino executive secretary who served under Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon.
When the President fled to Corregidor, Vargas headed the Civilian Emergency Administration on 30 December 1941 before he was declared mayor of Greater Manila whose assignment was to “take care of the Filipino people.”
He led the "open city" when the Imperial Japanese Army arrived on 2 January 1942, the same year he became the Philippine Executive Commission chair.
In fact, the Japanese Military Commander of the Philippines Masaharu Homma – an amateur painter and playwright who was more popularly known as the Poet General -- appointed him as “head of government” on 23 January 1942.
Eventually, the Japanese offered him the presidency during the Second Philippine Republic.
But he rejected it and, instead, accepted the position of Ambassador to Japan.
Afterwards, Vargas wore different hats as the National Planning Commission chair (1946-1954) as well as a member of the U.P. Board of Regents (1961-1965).
The Legion of Honor was conferred on him with the rank of Commander in 1960.
He entrusted on 1 March 1978 all his collection of art, stamps and coins; his library; his personal papers and memorabilia to U.P. where he obtained both his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1911 and his Bachelor of Law with honors in 1914.
Originally displayed in his residence at the Kawilihan compound in Mandaluyong, the transfer to the Diliman campus started in 1986.
After a year, on 22 February 1987, the museum building was formally inaugurated by no less than Pres. Corazon “Cory” Aquino who in 1998 was able to leave a mark in the form of a haiku written at the back of her own painting.
As a center for Philippine art and culture, Vargas Museum is the only art repository in the country that emcompasses the whole range of Philippine artistic creativity from the 1880s to the 1960s.
As a library, it boasts of 3,193 titles of books and 1,542 volumes of periodicals documenting of Vargas' various and varied interests, with the following indices aside from Vargasiana: Philippine art, numismatic, philatelic, ethnographic, linguistic sources, and, of course, Quezoniana!
Tomorrow, at 6 p.m., The Vargas Collection and Vargas Collects History will open at the 2F and 3F Galleries respectively of what is now known as The Jorge B.Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center.
It will be will followed by the launch of A Political Life in the Arts, Sen. Edgardo Angara, who was also born in Baler like Quezon.
“Vargas was one of the first Filipino collectors who acquired Philippine art and housed them in a museum to honor them” its incumbent curator Dr. Patrick Flores concluded, “and we are committed to continue his legacy.”
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
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